Despite the best intentions of the grunge movement eighties rock never really went away, there was merely a cull of the worst excesses of the genre, while the bands that survived the massacre found themselves in the odd position of reinventing themselves or being considered an anachronism by the bug-eyed music journalists and record labels, all of whom seemed to be obsessed with finding “the next big thing”. Yet, despite a snobbish attitude to old school hard rock it’s amazing how many bands are revered – Guns and Roses, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi all flourished throughout that period and have continued to enchant fans since then – and if the runaway success of Steel Panther has taught us anything it’s that driving guitars, chant-along choruses and helium fuelled vocals are still very much in demand even if that band had their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks (when they weren’t sandwiched between the cheeks of some poor groupie that is).
Reckless Love, then, have probably arrived at a rather fortuitous moment. With Download featuring bands such as Aerosmith, Kiss and Def Leppard and Bloodstock offering up Twisted Sister and Steelwing over the last year or two, it is clearly the time of good old fashioned rock bands and Reckless Love are exactly that; their trousers are tight, their voices high and their vocals multi-tracked and their guitars are set to stun via a relentlessly eighties-esque production that is both crisp and a clean and shows a deep affection for the time when big hair and bad attitudes ruled the airwaves. Lyrically pretty trite, Reckless Love open their album with ‘Feel my heat’ a driving paean to love and lust that sets out the band’s stall with over-the-top vocals and hard-riffing guitars. ‘One more time’ pulls off ‘Whoo’ and ‘yeah’ in the chorus with minimum embarrassment and ‘Badass’ is a real highlight – the perfect eighties throwback that makes you yearn for those crazy times even as you hope no one remembers what exactly you were wearing back then. The guitar playing here is the real star – tight, precise and furious when a solo is needed, Pepe simply shines and it’s quite impressive that the band manage to make so much noise with only one guitarist on board (Axl Rose needed and army of the buggers!)
There is a downside to Reckless Love’s good-time rock – while it is engaging, energetic and frequently makes you wanna leap up and down like a loon – there is a distinct absence of originality, with the songs coming across as a pastiche, albeit a well-intentioned one rather than as a new twist upon an old genre. While that is not a damning criticism – often the bands melodies are just too damn irresistible to let you take umbrage at their cheeky plagiarism – it would be good to think that this is a springboard that will see the band, who are undoubtedly very talented, develop their sonic palette on the next record and try some new ideas. That said, it is still a very enjoyable ride and ‘Love machine’s’ sexy groove (which almost directly steals the chorus from ‘pour some sugar on me’) is a triumph, as is the none-more-cheesy ballad of ‘sex’.
Ultimately whether you like Reckless Love or not will largely come down to how you feel about bands such as Def Leppard, Whitesnake and their ilk. If you dig them then you’ll go a bundle on this energetic release which has enough wit and charm to carry off its more obvious thievery, but don’t expect earth-shattering originality!